The Art of Spinning Gold Out Of Straw / Or How Cornucopia [The Horn of Plenty] was revealed to me in a Flash of Lighting & The Practice of Zero Waste

guessmynameDear Reader, my apologies for my absence these last few weeks, my husband has been quite unwell and life just snowballed, so its only now that I’m catching my breath. Thanks to The Powers That Be, he is slowly improving.

It has been a strange often surreal exhausting time, a haze of disinfectant sprays, wipes, washes…In the face of serious illness in the house, I had to give up much of my zero waste lifestyle. 

There is just no way to reuse or recycle used surgical gloves, bandages, bin bags etc, where there is infection, so our landfill waste bin has to be emptied every single day, where it used to be once a week. It may not sound so awful but it weighed heavily on my mind.

Bottles and bottles of disinfectant laundry detergent, floor disinfectant, surface disinfectant everywhere…The danger of infection and illness was too serious to use anything but the prescribed methods, which to be fair, worked but were very harsh, both on one’s skin, lungs, clothes and the environment.

61DiY-gCCtL._SY550_On a side note, the one natural product I was pleasently surprised the hospital approved of, was Tea Tree Oil. So it went into everything, detergent, floor cleaner, shampoo, shower gel, soap…

How-to-Use-Tea-Tree-Oil

Tea Tree Oil is an awesome and powerful antiseptic, which I cannot recommend enough!

As my husband was bed bound and I became his full time, if temporary carer, money has been really, really tight.

This added stress and worry to the already tough situation and I felt overwhelmed, lost and without hope.

Thankfully I didn’t have to resort to calling on Rumpelstiltskin, as the unfortunate girl who had to spin gold out of straw needed to in the well known fairytale but I found my salvation in the practice of Zero Waste.

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Late one night, unable to sleep [the couch by necessity had become my bed], I was browsing on Youtube and suddenly, like a flash of Lighting, I found myself captivated by people, who changed completely how they looked at the world, the ‘waste’ they created and the exciting concept of The Three Rs!

 

reuse-or-renew-1The Three Rs

There are Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. A remarkably straight forward concept but one which I have taken to heart and which is revolutionising my life! 🙂

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With Christmas on the horizon, I have taken ordinary everyday items that are usually used once and then discarded, such as milk cartoons, cereal boxes, tissue boxes, margarine tubs, plastic bottles and with some help from Youtube and unwanted fabric, paper bags, glue and scissors, I am turning them into Gift Boxes, Gift Bags and storage containers.

I talked about my ventures into this a month ago but my endeavours are coming on considerably since.

I love turning something which is plain and ordinary into something beautiful and special, which will bring pleasure to someone I care about. It is tremendously satisfying and an excellent way to unwind and take your mind off your troubles.

hand-warmer-diy-1Out of necessity, Homemade gifts shall be the order of the day this Christmas, so I have been making Heat Pads, Neck Warmers, Hand Warmers for all, as well as cushions and homemade beauty products.

Yes, it is true, it takes a lot of time, a lot of patience, mumbled swearwords under one’s breath as you prick your finger yet AGAIN…but its so worth it.

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The most wonderful side effect of all my recent frugal endeavours is an unexpected feeling of ‘plenty‘.

fortune-built-table-not-walls-we-are-humanity-e1510180168838.jpgFrom being stressed out of my mind about how we would manage with all the necessary cut backs and economies, I’ve been delighfully surprised to feel excited about all the ways I have learnt to make a little into a lot.

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I feel as if someone has handed me the horn of Cornucopia [the mythical horn of plenty] and all it takes to unlock the door into this world of wonder and magic is some imagination, a bit of inspiration from the web and a willingness to experiment.

Next Time

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I have started sleeping on the floor, for a variety of reasons and after doing a little research and using my own experiences, I can’t talk enough about the amazing benefits.

People are shocked and worried, when I tell them I’m sleeping on the floor but I’m loving it! Each night is a new adventure, a new experience and I wake up feeling restored, relaxed and ready for a bright new day! 🙂

Sleep well xx

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Upcycling Juice Boxes, Milk Cartons, Tissue Boxes & Other Common HouseHold Items

upcycleRecently I have been thinking more and more about how I need to do more as regards recycling. Its not just enough anymore to wash my cartons out and sort them for the trash, I want to find ways to reduce the amount of waste I produce and one way of doing that is to find new ways to reuse stuff I would usually throw away.

3773430-origI have been paying more attention to what goes in our recycling bin lately and the biggest culprits are:

  • Juice Boxes
  • Milk Cartons
  • Postal Packaging
  • Newspapers
  • The odd magazine
  • Plastic Bottles
  • Crisp Bags
  • Recipes
  • Packaging from store bought products
  • Chocolate Wrappers
  • Cereal Boxes
  • Tins
  • Tissue Boxes

reuse-milk-cartons-5So I have started finding ways to upcycle these things. The first I looked at was Juice Boxes

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You can make Juice Boxes into Storage containers, wallets, bags, gift boxes, toy boats…

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Cereal Boxes make great Filing containers for envelopes, papers, study notes…

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Tissue boxes are great as gift boxes, for flower displays, for seasonal decorations and childrens toys.

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Milk Cartons are useful for so many things. you truly are limited only by your imagination.

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Plastic Bottles can be made into pencil cases, bird feeders…

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Some Gift Boxes I’ve made so far using recycled materials: [not very exciting or professional looking but practice makes perfect!]

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Next Time

I will be looking at ways to reuse Tin Cans, making DIY Autumn and Halloween Decorations and talking about autumn wildlife.

Until then, sweet dreams.

Xxx

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How To DIY Heat Neck Pillows, Hand Warmers & Other Heat Packs To Keep You Warm & Cosy!

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So Autumn is most definitely here and in a ideal world, it should be something like this:

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Instead its usually more like this:

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So if your autumn is more like mine with long damp days and dark chilly nights, we could all do with a little warmth and cheer. Solution, make your own fabulous heat packs to stay toasty all the year long! 🙂

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There are a number of choices for what to use as filler for the heat packs, from rice to wheat to cherry stones to flaxseed.

937647c08def87fbff95382c05f0d65b--therapeutic-pillows-rice-bagsYou can also add herbs and flowers such as lavender, chamomile, mint…As well as your favourite essential oils but remember a little goes a long way, as when the heat pack is heated, the scent will be much more intense.

After much research, Flaxseed seems to be the most popular choice for stuffing your heat pack.

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WHY FLAX INSTEAD OF OTHER GRAINS?

Flaxseed provides a gentle, moist heat which promotes healing.

  • Flaxseeds are flower seeds, rather than grains, so they contain 30-40% oil which remains inside the seed to be warmed again and again. Other products lose their ability to retain heat as the water cooks out of them over time.
  • When heated, flaxseed pillows retain half their heat after an hour. Under covers (think about those toes…) the pillow will still be warm hours later.
  • Flax never has that “cooked grain” smell other grain based products have when heated over and over again.
  • The weight of flaxseed is gentle and comforting.
  • Flaxseed pillows can also be chilled in the freezer to sooth fevers or slight inflammations, though they don’t get cold enough to provide the numbness needed for things like sprains and back injuries.

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  • Choose your fabric. Something heavy but not too stiff, like brushed canvas or cotton ticking, works well.
  • Its best to use 100% cotton if possible as artificial materials are more likely to burn in a microwave.
  • Decide what size you’d like your finished pillow to be. Customize it to suit your needs, but a rectangle about 6 inches by 18 inches is a good place to start. (This is long enough to drape around your neck.)
  • Cut your fabric. You can cut two pieces of cloth, adding about half an inch for a seam allowance all around. Or you can cut one piece of cloth that’s twice the width you want the finished pillow to be plus half an inch seam allowance on each side. (In this case you’ll fold the fabric in half lengthwise and sew three rather than four ends closed.)
  • Place right sides of the fabric together and sew, using a half-inch seam allowance on each side. Leave one short side open for filling.
  • Turn your pillow right side out.

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Fill your pillow about two-thirds to three-fourths full of flax seed.

Add about 1/4 cup of dried lavender flowers. Don’t overdo the flowers, because the scent will become stronger when heated. And don’t overfill the pillow or the seeds won’t be able to move around and the pillow won’t drape comfortably.

acbfa49b74dd818ae2763313e414a016Sew the last end closed. (You can fold the ends in and sew by hand or by machine.)

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Use

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To use your pillow, warm it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Shake and warm for another 30 to 60 seconds, until the desired warmth.

To warm it in the oven, place in cold oven and turn heat to 200 degrees. Shake pillow after five minutes, then replace for another two to five minutes, testing often.

Note: Be careful not to overheat the pillow! It can get hot enough to burn you or even start a fire!

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Other Options

  • Design your pillow in the shape of a “U” to fit around your neck. Or make a muff to put your cold hands in.
  • Make a no-sew version using tube socks. Just fill with flax and lavender and knot the end
  • Sew a liner to fill with flax and lavender and a removable cover for washing. Simply make the cover just a bit larger than the liner, for easy removal. And be sure to prewash and preshrink your outer fabric. (You don’t want it to shrink so that it no longer fits over your liner.)
  • cd51fedb53d5b39e5163a4870408aaec--diy-heating-pad-heating-padsChoose a liner fabric that’s lightweight and a bit open weaved but tight enough to hold the contents.
  • Use dried rose petals, mint, or other dried herbs that you enjoy for scent in place of the lavender flowers.
  • Use your pillow over your forehead, or under or over your feet, too.
  • Try chilling your pillow in the freezer when you need to cool rather than warm an area.

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Flax pillows make wonderful gifts. Choose fabrics that are appropriate for the recipient, and tie with a pretty ribbon or raffia. Include a little card with directions.

You can even make them into stuffed animals or incorporate them into slippers but I will be talking about that again in the future.

il_340x270.1056921972_s3rtIf you have Sore wrists and spend a lot of time in a chilly office, you can make simple Keyboard and Wrist Support Heat pads.

Or if you you have a old flannel shirt, it would be perfect for making some seasonal hand warmers…diy-flannel-foot-warmer-gift-idea-05

In Conclusion

I have made one neck pillow, one heavy pillow for sore tummies and one comforting hand warmer and have tested them all in the microwave with success! Hurrah!

These were made from material I had on hand, heavy denim from a old pair of jeans and a lighter cotton from too long summer trousers.img_20171006_225137.jpg

I plan to make a lot of them in the coming weeks, as I hope to have a stall at a local Christmas market for the first time, so lot of work to get ready for that!

In the meantime, if you try making a heat pack yourself, curl up in bed and enjoy the many days and nights of warmth and comfort you will have from your very own fabulous DIY Heat Pad 🙂

Xxx

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How to Make Plant Milks, Super Easy, Super Nutritious & Super Delicious! Also How to make Death Wish Irish Coffee!!

PISTACHIOSI recently came across a video on youtube about making your own plant milk and was astonished at how easy and how cheap it is to do and wanted to share it here with you.

There are many reasons why more and more people have stopped drinking dairy and are turning to alternatives.

plant-milk-oat-almond-coconut-1015x677A considerable proportion of the population are lactose intolerant and so for health reasons need to avoid dairy.

open-uri20170531-3-1x7ei98Others choose to give up dairy for ethical reasons [calves are taken away from their mothers as soon as they are born so humans can drink the milk], environmental reasons [plant based milks need far less land, water and other resources then dairy] and some people stop drinking dairy simply to lose weight.

Whatever the reason, well done and welcome to a world full of exciting new tastes and flavours! 🙂

The only true downer about dairy alternatives is the price tag…here in Ireland anyways, soya milk, rice milk, coconut milk are all quite pricey, usually averaging about three euro per litre. As for oat or hemp milk or nuts milks, they are much harder to find and just as dear.

The good news is that making your own milk is super easy and super cheap!

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Coconut milk is made slightly different to other milks in that, it needs hot water but that is the only difference.

01-January23I find coconut milk quite sweet so don’t recommend adding anything for extra sweetness such as dates, as it doesn’t need it.

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If you want a healthy warming treat on these cold autumn evenings, a cup of Hot Chocolate Coconut Milk is just what you need!

Simply combine the ingredients together in a saucepan and heat until it starts to steam. Pour into a mug and enjoy. For extra yumminess, add a sprinkling of caca powder on top.

Coconut-Hot-Choc-Hero-1-1024x677

3bb62d3ac3e2fcb2363d3536f27e736e--vegan-milk-non-dairy-milkIn my last post, I talked about the many wonders of flaxseed and all its incredible uses and here is another.

Flaxseed makes for a lovely mild milk full of nutrients and is made by soaking the seeds in water overnight, place in the blender until smooth, then sieve and filter and bottle.

The flaxseeds can be used again one more time, as they are so full of natural goodness and plant oils.

One of the first milks I made last week was Oat milk. The first recipe I tried was just plain oat milk and as simple as could be. I put a cup of oats in water, left it to soak for half a hour, then blended until smooth, sieved and filtered and then bottled.

Result, a rich creamy milk but a trifle too bland for my tastes. This recipe would be more suited for soups, smoothies and sauces.

So onto the next recipe: this time I added three pitted dates and half a teaspoon of vanilla essence and only used half the quantity of oats.

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Result, a smoother sweeter milk that tasted delicious nice & cold straight from out of the fridge and onto my cereal. Definite winner! Lovely in cereal, in your tea or on its own and full of natural goodness!

One popular dairy alternative is Almond milk, which has many health benefits and for those who like almonds, is a must!

It is important to use raw ideally organic almonds and if you don’t like the slightly earthy colour, use pealed almonds.

Benefits-Of-Almond-Milk-e1421462975310Simply soak a cup of almonds overnight in water, discard the water in the morning and then add fresh water to the nuts, place in the blender and whizz…sieve and filter using a muslin cloth or cheese-bag.

Enjoy as a hot drink with a sprinkling of cinnamon or coco powder or add to smoothies for a nutrient boast.

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HazelnutMilk2One recipe I tried today was Hazelnut milk. I soaked a cup of blanched raw hazelnuts in water overnight. This morning, I changed the water, blended and filtered. Delicious! For extra sweetness add a pitted date or two.

Another tasty option is to add organic cacao powder to make a delicious chocolate substitute drink.

I recommend a few drops of vanilla essence and two pitted dates for extra sweetness.

Another popular dairy alternative is Rice milk. Below is the easy to follow recipe. Best of all if you have rice left over from last night’s dinner, it wont go to waste!

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We come at last to the most popular and most readily available of the plant milks, Soya milk.

Soya milk is everywhere these days and available in a wide variety of flavours from vanilla to chocolate to strawberry.

However most soya milk is long life milk which has been so treated that most of the nutrients have been destroyed in the process. Fresh really is best.

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To make Soya milk, you need raw soya beans, ideally organic, water, vanilla essence and if desired either apple juice or three pitted dates.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup white soybeans
  • 2-3 cups water for soaking
  • 4 cups water for blending
  • Three pitted dates or two tablespoons of Apple juice to sweeten

Method

  • Soak soybeans in 2-3 cups of water overnight.
  • Discard water and rinse soybeans.
  • Remove skins as best you can.
  • Add soybeans and 4 cups water to blender.
  • Blend until smooth.
  • Strain the blended mixture using a piece of muslin or A tight-weave cloth is preferable, as twisting the top tightly enables you to continue squeezing out more milk.
  • Heat the strained milk in a heavy-bottom pan to 180ºF (82ºC). Hold this temperature for 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Cool the milk and store.
  • Refrigerate up to 4 days.

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Another variant of this simple recipe is to use the raw green soya beans:

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*Important note: the material left over after filtering your plant milk can be used in baking or smoothies.*

Some suggestions for what alternative milk works best for cooking, baking etc.

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I shall finish tonights post with a recipe for Death Wish Irish Coffee:

jjjWhat you need:

  • Strong Coffee, brewed [There is an actual brand called Death Wish Coffee that you can buy]
  • Irish Whiskey
  • 1 can of unsweetened coconut milk [ *Refrigerate coconut milk for at least six hours.]
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of very hot water
  • Mason Jar, frozen for 15 minutes
  • Stemmed Glass

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  • Shake heavy cream and 1 teaspoon of maple syrup in freezing cold mason jar for two minutes straight. Freeze for up to 15 minutes before serving.
  • Brew strong coffee.
  • Just use the excess water from the kettle to preheat your glass in the next step.
  • Melt brown sugar into hot water and swish. Since the whipped cream that we made is only lightly sweetened, this is your opportunity to add more sugar if you enjoy very sweet coffee.
  • Pour your glass 3/4 of they way full with Coffee. That should leave the perfect amount of space for whiskey and cream
  • Add a shot of Irish whiskey
  • Add cream
  • Enjoy!

 

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Next Time

I will be making Flaxseed warming neck pillows, Rice heat pads and other natural products to keep you toasty this winter! 🙂

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Flaxseed: Benefits, Uses & Recipes

82679114-56a5c2505f9b58b7d0de5963I have recently discovered the wonders of Flaxseed, otherwise known as Linseed and cannot praise it enough.

Flaxseed is high in minerals and vitamins, good for your immune system, good for your digestive system and for losing weight.

They’re an super easy way to give your body an omega-3 boost without going through the trouble of eating salmon or sardines.Omega 3’s are excellent for reducing inflammation and are known for promoting heart and brain health.

The healthy fats in flaxseeds also help to hydrate your skin, and a daily dose will leave your skin soft and supple.

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How To Make Flaxseed Hair Gel

 

Ingredients

  • Strainer or clean tights
  • Wooden spoon/Bowl or air tight container
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/4 or 1/2 cup of flax seed (linseed) depending on how thick you want it
  • 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel (optional)
  • 3 drops of Rosemary essential oil
  • You can also add a teaspoon of Vitamin E oil which will help make it last longer

Method

Pour 2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of flax seed into a pot on low/medium heat

Bring it to a boil stirring flax seed often with preferably a wood spoon.

Turn off heat when a white frothy gel like liquid forms (it will have a raw egg white consistency).

Continue stirring while it simmers.

Place strainer or clean tights on top of your bowl or container and pour mixture into it.

Let it cool down, add aloe gel and essential oil

Place the rest of the gel in an air tight container. The shelf life is 12-14 days in the refrigerator

Place used flax seeds in a container and place in fridge to use them again :).

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Benefits of Flaxseed Hair Gel

  • Leaves hair soft, shiny, and moisturised
  • Promotes hair growth
  • You can reuse the flax seeds
  • Cost effective (more for your money)
  • Nourishing for the hair rich in omega 3
  • Gives great curl definition
  • Gives hold with no crunch/non flaking/not drying to the hair/doesn’t cause breakage/or shedding
  • Fast drying
  • Great for wash n go’s/sleek styles/twists and twist outs and sets the twists once dry for a lovely twist out
  • Mixes well with oils/conditioners/ many products
  • All natural..organic.
  • Great for all hair types

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How To Make Natural Personal Lubricant from Flaxseed

Ingredients

  • Strainer
  • Wooden spoon and bowl
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/4 or 1/2 cup of flax seed (linseed) depending on how thick you want it
  • 1 tblsp pf aloe vera gel
  • 3 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil or
  • Geranium Essential Oil
  • Jasmine Essential Oil
  • Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
  • You can also add a teaspoon of Vitamin E oil which will help make it last longer

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Method

Pour 2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of flax seed into a pot on low/medium heat

bring it to a boil stirring flax seed often with preferably a wood spoon.

Turn off heat when a white frothy gel like liquid forms (it will have a raw egg white consistency).

Continue stirring while it simmers.

Place strainer or stocking sock on top of your bowl or container and pour mixture in.

Let it cool down, add aloe gel and essential oil

Place the rest of the gel in an air tight container. The shelf life is 12-14 days in the refrigerator

Place used flax seeds in a container and place in fridge to use them again 🙂

**Warning** Do not use this lubricant with condoms as the essential oils are not compatible with latex and will cause the condoms to break***

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Did you know that Linen, that essential summer staple in your wardrobe is made from flax?

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Flaxseed is also used to create those wonderful warming neck pillows… I will be making one of these in the near future and will let you know how it goes.

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Flaxseed is great in smoothies, on yoghurt, in baking…

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How-to-Make-a-Flax-Egg

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon (7 gram) flaxseed meal (ground raw flaxseed)
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp (37 ml) water

  • Add flaxseed meal and water to a dish and stir.
  • Let rest for 5 minutes to thicken.
  • Add to recipes in place of 1 egg

It’s not an exact substitution in every recipe because it doesn’t bind and stiffen during baking quite like an egg does but it is still good if you run out of eggs.

*This is not my original recipe, but one I discovered on many vegan baking blogs and have since adapted for my own use.

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How To Make Flaxseed Crackers

Ingredients

  • 1 medium overripe banana
  • 1 cup flax seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons of raisins (or other dried fruit)

Method

Preheat oven to 160c

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease a cookie sheet.

In a bowl, mash the banana until it gets to a sticky texture.

Add in flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and raisins into the bowl and mix thoroughly.

Drop about 1/2 tablespoon drops of the batter onto the baking sheet. Flatten the batter into a round cookie shape.

Place the cookies into the oven and bake for about 20-22 minutes or until the edges turn into a nice brown colour.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Enjoy! 🙂

Xx